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Israeli Knesset recognizes Animal Rights Day with a show of support for a slew of pet protection bills

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  • Brook
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4 5:57 PM
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      Israeli Knesset recognizes Animal Rights Day with a show of support for a slew of pet protection bills

      Agriculture Ministry releases data showing a significant rise in enforcement of the law against cruelty to animals; animal rights activists say enforcement of the law is still inadequate.

      By Ilan Lior

      The Knesset passed four bills aimed at protecting animals in preliminary reading Tuesday, in honor of Israel's Animal Rights Day. The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee approved a fifth bill for first reading.

      Also in honor of the day, the Agriculture Ministry released data showing a significant rise in enforcement of the law against cruelty to animals. In 2011, the ministry handled 303 animal abuse cases, a 50 percent increase over the previous year. But animal rights activists said enforcement of the law is still inadequate.

      One bill approved by the plenum yesterday would expand the authority given to inspectors under the law against cruelty to animals. It would allow inspectors and policemen to enter private courtyards, pet shops, farms, petting zoos and even cars without a warrant, even if there is no real suspicion that an animal is being abused. Only entering a private home would still require a warrant.

      The second bill authorizes the Agriculture Ministry to begin licensing people who work with animals in various capacities - for instance, those who train or transport animals. Under the bill, such workers would henceforth have to undergo appropriate training.

      The Knesset passed a third bill in preliminary reading that would reduce the quarantine period for dogs who bite by stipulating that the quarantine will end 10 days after the day on which the biting occurred, regardless of when it began. Currently, the mandatory quarantine period is 10 full days - meaning that if a dog was put into quarantine only two days after biting someone, he would be released 12 days after the biting occurred. Often, this means that dogs are put into quarantine weeks or even months after having bitten someone, because the authorities find out about it only belatedly.

      A fourth bill passed in preliminary reading yesterday would require preparation of an educational program for civil servants on preventing cruelty to animals.

      Finally, the bill approved by the Economic Affairs Committee would encourage dog owners to spay or neuter their dogs by raising the annual licensing fee for owners who do not do so. The bill's goal is to reduce the birth of unwanted puppies which later get abandoned. The Agriculture Ministry estimates that around 100,000 dogs are abandoned in Israel every year, and tens of thousands of them are ultimately put to sleep.

      Currently, the annual license fee is NIS 51 for owners who neuter their dogs and NIS 144 for those who don't. The bill would raise the latter figure substantially, to NIS 351 or even higher.

      Its sponsor, MK Eitan Cabel (Labor), noted that currently only about a quarter of all licensed male dogs are neutered, while only two-thirds of licensed female dogs are spayed. Hence a greater incentive is clearly needed, he argued.

      But since veterinary clinics charge NIS 700 to spay or neuter a dog, the fee will still cost less than the operation. Moreover, opponents argued, the higher fee might spur owners not to license their dogs at all, in which case they also won't get rabies shots. They therefore argued that a better approach would be to subsidize the operation.

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